On Government and Service
Our government and our society seem so divided and polarized. People feel alienated from “the government” and are skeptical about government service. I don’t think it has to be that way. Lincoln really did say it best, “Government of, by, and for the people.” Government is not a building in Madison; it’s not elected officials. When I see you, I see our government. The heart of representative democracy rests in and of the people – the citizens. We elect neighbors to represent us, represent our interests and advocate for our concerns. There are things we cannot do alone and must do together in community. Things like raising and educating children, building roads, providing security, assuring justice, seeking fairness, stewarding our shared resources, caring for the vulnerable. Those are good things – those are the things that make a society prosper.
My experiences on the Ashland City Council and my work to build quality, affordable housing and create jobs through the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Authority taught me some important lessons about working across the things that divide us to find that uncommon, common ground. I believe we need to make citizenship, not partisanship, our standard. I believe we need to focus more on the next generation, not the next election.
I’m a pragmatist. I look for practical solutions to real problems. Ideologies too often lock us into false, polarized positions. I don’t believe in simplistic, one-size-fits-all solutions to complicated problems. Slogans end up being just so much smoke. They fire people up for a while, but they do not advance our communities. Big promises end up like balloons without air.
I also believe in finding common ground in order to serve the common good. Governing is not the same as campaigning. I don’t believe a party can govern well by being against government. That’s like trying to win a race by being against running. Since government is of, by, and for the people, running against government for the sake of special interests or the elite and wealthy is like running against the people and their interests.
Government must be accountable and responsive to the people, since it’s theirs. Good government means good stewardship. That’s what we elect representatives to do on our behalf. We really do need each other to pull together and rebuild communities and the can-do spirit of Wisconsin. Of, by, and for the people. That’s the heart of representative democracy. It’s the pursuit of the possible, not the perfect. Governing includes the art of compromise without compromising the people’s core values. That’s why I’m running for re-election: to keep a strong voice for the north in Madison.
Friends often ask me, “Why did you decide to run for the State Assembly?” My answer, simply, is that I want to serve – to give something back. I’m not a career politician; this isn’t a stepping stone to higher office. My experience, my ability to get things done, my ability to work for common-sense solutions to real life problems, led me to run for this office. I hope you’ll join me and work together to build up our communities and shape a hope filled future.